In 1994, as a field staffer in Cuyahoga County, the day after the election was so depressing, all I wanted to do was see Bill Clinton on the TV.  It was a strange, helpless feeling.  Today, I kinda had the same feeling when Barack Obama came out to the East Room for a press conference after taking, in his words, “a shellacking”.

When Clinton held the same press conference in 1994, Democrats had lost both the House and Senate.  In Ohio, it was our Rob Burch year, when ODP nearly lost major party status because Burch’s 25% was so catastrophic.  Every statewide office went Republican by a landslide, including Howard Metzenbaum’s Senate seat, and a bunch of US House seats, including Eric Fingerhut, whose opponent that year, Steve LaTourette, is still with us.  It was also the year that Frank Cremeans beat Ted Strickland in OH-06.  Bob Ney was elected that year.  So was Steve Chabot.

Almost immediately, it became the fashion to ask whether or not Bill Clinton, even the presidency itself, was “relevant” anymore.

Compared to 1994, last night isn’t nearly as bad.  Democrats still hold the US Senate.  Ted Strickland nearly won re-election, and but for Lee Fisher, certainly would have.  Our down ballot statewides were much closer than they were in 1994.  The 5 US House seats we lost are the ones we tend to lose, and Steve Driehaus was way closer to Chabot than anyone predicted.  Even Lee’s 19 point loss compared to Joel Hyatt’s US Senate loss in 1994 isn’t all that bad – Hyatt’s loss by 14 to Mike DeWine would have been by 21 but for a protozoan early Pleistocean era teabagger on the ticket who puled 7 points from DeWine.

In short, for the White House, the Ohio result in 2010, while really bad, wasn’t as bad as Bill Clinton’s Ohio result in 1994.  Not even close.

Clinton went on to take Ohio in 1996 comfortably, with a sitting Republican governor, every statewide office in Republican hands except for John Glenn’s US Senate seat, and an Ohio Democratic Party that had less than two years to rebuild from nearly hitting minor party status.

How did that happen?  First, ODP began rebuilding immediately, replacing chairman Harry Meshel with David Leland, who focused almost exclusively on fundraising.  The economy turned around.  The first Clinton budget began to visibly restore fiscal sanity to the federal government.

Republicans overreached in Congress, as they certainly will do again, except this time with a flair of total insanity only a teabagger can imagine.  Bob Dole became the poster child for the Republican Congress, morphing into Newt Gingrich in ad after ad.  Sarah Palin, whether she runs for president as a Republican, an independent, or not at all, will do all that work by her pretty little self, helped along by a cast of characters that make Gingrich look like a statesman.

And after 1994, Bill Clinton stayed Bill Clinton.

After watching him today, I’m pretty confident that Barack Obama is going to stay Barack Obama.

Chin up, Ohio Democrats.  It’s not as bad as you think.

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  • Murphy

    with Mitch McConnell already stating that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president” he’s proven that 2012 is not about Healthcare reform or even the economy for Republicans- it’s about a blanant power grab.

  • Shammasmalik

    Your ludicrous claim that Ted Strickland lost because of Lee Fisher is as inaccurate as it is disrespectful.

  • Anonymous

    Are you still drunk from last night? Seriously…

    Any comparison to 1994 to 2010 shows that last night was as bad if not worse than 1994.

    We didn’t lose FIVE congressional seats in Ohio in 1994, I believe the number was maybe three? (Mann, Strickland, and Fingerhut)

    In 1994, our Democratic statewide candidates all lost by larger margins, but that had to more with: 1) their Republican candidates were largely incumbents; 2) a much weaker Democratic ticket across the board. The margins in the U.S. Senate race were the same from 2010 and 2006. Those margins had nothing to do with Bill Clinton. Nor did the closeness of our statewide races have much to do with Barack Obama.

    We didn’t have a sixty seat majority in the U.S. Senate in 1994 that we lost, it was 56 majority. So, we’ve lost about the same number of Senate seats this year.

    But, yippie, instead of the 60-seat majority we started with, now we have Harry Reid sheparding 51. With Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman still there. And the remaining Democratic Senators up in 2012 wondering if their seat will be the next GOP majority maker. What could possibly go wrong?

    You can’t look at this election and say that this isn’t as much, if not more, than a complete repudiation by Obama on a scale as bad or worse than 1994, Tim.

    Strickland barely lost in 1994. Driehaus lost by seven points. So even our closest Congressional loss yesterday is worse than 1994. To say that yesterday wasn’t as bad is 1994 is just nonsense.

    To say that Obama will pull a Clinton ignores that Obama failed to deliver a campaign message that we had to depend on Bill Clinton to deliver. So signs aren’t looking promising there.

    I’ll give you that the GOP will overreach. That’s about it.

    But to write in one day that Lee Fisher was responsible for Governor Strickland’s loss, but Barack Obama wasn’t is totally disjoined from political reality.

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  • It feels like spring of ’08 in here. Good to be back. Armchair ref says:
    Nationally, November was worse than in ’94 (point Modern), but the reality on the Hill in January is better than in ’95 (point Tim). In Ohio, January 2011 will have bigger majorities in the GA and Senate than did January ’95 (point Modern). November 2010 was comparable to 1994 (toss-up), but 1995 was not a redistricting year (0 points, not mentioned), so all in all 2010 looks like the bigger disaster to me. ( But what do I know, I wasn’t in Ohio in 1994.

    As for Modern’s last shot, the 1994 GOP ran against Hillary Clinton, The 2010 GOP ran against Nancy Pelosi. Tim’s at least part right in that Bill did not take quite the hit that the pundits thought back then, and Obama still has more political capital than he’s given credit for (half point Tim).

    Finally, Modern claims that Tim is blaming Lee but absolving Barack. I didn’t read it that way. Tim thinks that Lee dropping out in February would have made the difference for Ted in November, but in that speech Tim watched Obama took responsibility for not leading the party to a better result this time around, and I didn’t hear Tim contradict that. (-1 point, Modern)

    In a close decision, Russo over Esquire, 2.5 to 2.0

  • Anonymous

    You forget one other thing… our losses in Congress were twice as large.

    Also the only poll that asked it showed Brunner doing no better.

  • Anonymous

    Sarah will not run. Too much responsibility, not enough $$.

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